October the 8th proved a popular date for a mixture of races you could choose from. The XC season made an early appearance with the Metro XC sounding like a hilly experience. Rushmoor 10k proved a good draw for some, although I enjoyed this race last year and proved a lot more interesting than I imagined, Aldershot never did float my boat so I opted for some sea, sand and running, I say sand, the nearest I got to the beach was the dusting on the promenade as we ran alongside.
I was collected by Dave Bartlett in his stealth vehicle, at the ungodly hour of 05:30, this was after I had a stand off with some local wildlife, no not the local drunks, but a rather large looking fox who was determined to hold his ground. Thankfully he scuttled away into the bushes, leaving the way clear. On route we collected Nigel Evans and we made our way down the M3 towards Bournemouth, admiring the gadgets in Dave’s Bat mobile.
We arrived in good time, the sun was still thinking about making an appearance by the time we arrived, Dave then impressed us with his ability to pay for a parking space via the bat mobile, there’s something to be said for good old cash.
The start was just over an hour away, so time for the normal pre race rituals, no queues, great stuff. A warm cup of tea followed and then I met up with a colleague who I’d arranged to run with for the first few miles to help him run a sub 2 hours. Before we know it, we are penned and ready to run.
This was my first experience of the Bournemouth running festival, so the last thing I had ringing in my head was enjoy the hill at nine miles… Hill!?! I thought this course was along the beach… so OK, I’m pre-prepared for a mountainous climb. The race is off, we are making our way along the generic streets of Bournemouth… we could be anywhere… OK head down and pacing my colleague who seems to think he’s related to Mo Farah all of a sudden. Having run a few of these things, I know that very soon his legs are going to fall off, I quietly say, we are moving rather fast shall we sit back a bit, then we start down hill so he moves up through the gears.
I find myself moving just ahead of him, starting to relax into my pace enjoying some of the sea views as we continue through five miles, although actually I didn’t have a clue as I don’t recall seeing mile markers for each split. So where is the turnaround? OK here we go, whip round the corner, Alistair Brownlee always says use this as slingshot move, ping I’m round. This is when I notice I’ve dropped my mate by some distance, feeling a little guilty I ease up slightly as the road undulates a little, then he returns to sit on my shoulder, looking a little sheepish.
The best thing about belonging to Sandhurst Joggers, is the amazing support you get at these events, unfortunately for my colleague hearing my name numerous times must have been a little annoying – LOL! The Friday before I’d enjoyed a little bike ride with Fiona Marshall and Serena Gigg, now they are seasoned riders, I’m not, so 40 miles on the bike was not the wisest decision, so the hamstrings were starting to whinge slightly so I re-arranged my stride to try and stretch the hamstrings and not allow the mental battle to beat me.
My mantra has always been a mile at a time, and not think about the end goal. The sea view is suddenly filled with the pier as runners make the decking rattle as they pound up and around, but oh no, I’m going right and up this mystery hill, here we go, dig deep, dig really deep, don’t look and don’t be drawn into following the surrounding runners who’ve decided to walk, it’s just a hill the pain is nearly over. The summit is conquered, “all down hill now” some one shouted, I never believe that quote, never.
As much as I love the sea, having spent several years floating around in ships, the promenade seems to extend in the distance so far that I resort to tucking behind runners around me so I can’t see the end. So I didn’t even notice the sparkling sea to my right.
The pier arrives, up the short incline, onto the wooden deck and I bounce along to the turnaround point, as I run down I start to look for my colleague. Then Dave Bartlett appears with my colleague sat right behind him, OK I’m no longer his pacer… sport mode time… time to finish this race. The final stretch, the legs are OK, I’m now using lamp posts for an ad hoc interval session, choosing not to look at the final pier in the distance.
I’d set the watch at 1:49, so my time and pace wasn’t showing, just a percentage, which proved helpful, instead of constantly watching the pace I focused on the time left. I hit the pier and pushed, trying to catch an eye of my now competition and where is that finish line. “Sprint after the monument” someone called out, so they hid the finish around the corner. There it is, come on legs, lets go, push, one final push, feeling good, a little tired, but feeling ok. And the time, 1:48:58, job done.
My colleague achieved his goal, with a 10 minute PB, 1:54 so we walk away from Bournemouth with a sense of achievement, and a purple/mauve/pink box.
See you next year Bournemouth.